Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is Resistance Futile?

Chartists and technical analysts are fond of using the terms support and resistance when tracking trends in either individual stocks or indices. The terms are widely understood by the investing community, representing key levels for buying and/or selling.

The S&P is said to be close to resistance at 1108, though it appears very likely that this level could be taken out quite easily, if the market remains on its current trajectory. Seems like stocks are all the rage right now, the media having convinced enough people that the economy is on the mend and all will be good down the road of recovery.

Now, there's plenty of evidence to the contrary, especially the absurd notion that producer prices are rising at all. This was expressed in glaring terms by the PPI data from january, which showed a rise of 1.4% in annualized terms. That number had the inflationistas bellowing, though their howling was largely dinned by the shrieks from the initial unemployment claims figures, which, incidentally, were reported during a wicked snowstorm in the Northeast, though most of the reporting is actually done by phone or computer. The number of new unemployment filings was 473,000, a big jump from the 442,000 reported the week prior.

Normally, in a 3.5% GDP, 5% unemployment environment, those number would be about 200,000 or less, so the economy still appears to be bleeding jobs rather than creating them. We were all informed countless times by the financial literati that unemployment was a lagging indicator, though that's a suspect notion, so, we shouldn't be too concerned, should we?

Government and media sources also declared the recession over in the third quarter of last year, when Cash of Clunkers helped push the GDP to somewhere around 2.1% for the quarter. Since that, was, OK, September, we'll say, shouldn't the employment data be more robust, now that we are five months hence?

Of course none of this matters if you question the actual numbers that are routinely tossed about by the feds, states, media and other organizations which track such things. Jobs should not be lagging if US BUSINESSES are growing. Otherwise, it's just accounting gimmicks, cost-cutting and downsizing.

Nevertheless, those intrepid Wall Street investors continue to dive into equities, mostly on any decline in the US dollar, like today, and Tuesday. The bad, unsustainable and eventually self-destructive carry trade is still on, so they party on.

Dow 10,392.90, +83.66 (0.81%)
NASDAQ 2,241.71, +15.42 (0.69%)
S&P 500 1,106.75, +7.24 (0.66%)
NYSE Composite 7,080.38, +45.18 (0.64%)

Advancing issues led decliners, 4177-2270, while new highs beat new lows, 202-30. Once again, the new lows are being squashed by comparisons to last year's bottom. Realistically, there should be very few, and there are. Give this indicator wide latitude in your analysis because it is very skewed to the positive right now. After March 9, and especially by June, the numbers will be much more reliable. Volume was light. The NYSE recorded its third slowest trading day of the year. A good deal of positioning is taking place, and certainly, players are hedged to the max. News flows and data will be critical over the next 30-45 days for determining direction.

NYSE Volume 4,480,385,500
NASDAQ Volume 2,048,994,500

Crude oil continued its ridiculous path, gaining $1.12, to $78.45. Gold dropped $1.10, to $1,119.00. Silver fell 8 cents to $16.02.

Unless stocks really tank on Friday, this week will go down as the second straight gainer and third overall, against four losing weeks. Good luck.

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